By Chris Snellgrove | Published
It can be hard to sympathize with a fly (unless it’s as cute as Jeff Goldblum, of course), but when one of the critters is stuck inside a Venus fly trap. At that point, it’s hard not to ask yourself that creepiest of questions: “what if that thing was eating me?”
We used to tell ourselves that would be impossible, but get this: Unilad reports that Sierra College astrobiologist Barry Rice “fed his Venus flytraps some chunks of skin that had peeled off his toes due to an athlete’s foot infection,” verifying that these carnivorous plants will eat human tissue.
A Biologist Put Pieces Of His Own Skin Inside A Venus Flytrap To See What Would Happen
We’ll be the first to admit that Rice might be the maddest scientist this side of Dr. Frankenstein. But there was a method to his madness: “He cut the skin into four equally sized pieces and placed them in the jaws of four Venus flytrap plants.” Going into this crazy experiment, Rice had expected the skin to remain intact when he opened the Venus flytrap mouths a week later.
A Week Later, The Plant Ingested Most Of The Skin
Once Rice opened his Venus flytraps, “he was pleasantly surprised to find that the chunks of skin were almost completely digested.” Fortunately, Rice has a sense of humor about both the grossness of the experiment itself as well as the results: in describing what the digested skin chunks looked like after a week, Rice wrote on his blog “What was left no longer had much cohesion, but was gooey and slimy, like little boogers.” If you’re not already throwing up in your mouth a bit, he continued by asking “what is with the weird hue shift to bacon color?”
Could Venus Flytraps Evolve To Hunt Humans?
If you’ve watched enough science fiction movies, then you’re probably a bit concerned right now. Since Venus flytraps are perfectly capable of digesting human tissue, it may sound like we’re on the verge of a Little Shop of Horrors situation. That brings us to the big question: should we be worried about these carnivorous plants eventually capturing and eating an entire person?
There’s Little To Worry About Given The Small Size Of Venus Flytraps
Some good news: you can stop figuring out which of the annoying people in your life you’d feed to the next Audrey II to keep her from eating you. The most obvious reason Venus flytraps don’t pose a threat to a human being is that they are far too small to capture anything much bigger than…well…a fly.
Additionally, while Barry Rice’s experiment is fascinating, proving that these plants can eat small chunks of flesh still doesn’t prove that they could eat anything harder (like the bones and cartilage throughout your body).
Flesh Eating Plants Remains In The Realm of Sci-Fi … For Now
That’s the hope that we’re clinging to over here: that we don’t have to add killer plants to the list of things that we’re worried are going to kill us. Even if we end up getting spliced with some fly DNA in one of those weird teleportation pods Jeff Goldblum had in The Fly, we’d still be too big for the Venus flytrap to eat us.
Let’s just hope that David Cronenberg doesn’t make a movie out of this Venus flytrap experiment…who needs more body horror when the experiment already involves someone feeding their athlete’s foot skin chunks to their pet plants?